Local project harms students
Posted January 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm in Opinion
Students might not be aware that Geoff Palmer, a local real estate developer, is demolishing a downtown orthopedic hospital to build luxury housing units.
But we must make our voices heard against the project if we are to preserve the well-being of our community.
What is upsetting about the proposed âLorenzo Project,â is that the land has a âQâ condition,âa zoning regulation that maintaining that the plot of land can only be used for education or health services only.
Palmer has been lobbying hard for L.A.âs planning commissioners to lift the âQâ condition on the property. Without the commissionersâ approval, the project cannot proceed.
Community and student activists are, and should be, opposed to the project precisely because of zoning regulationsâ Â which are in place to make sure that working-class neighborhoods have access to much-needed health services.
According to a study by Community Health Councils Inc., South Los Angeles, compared with the rest of the country, has the âpopulation with the highest overall rates of disease and premature deaths in the county from such preventable conditions as coronary heart disease, homicide, diabetes, lung cancer and motor vehicle crashes.â
The study also found that the South Los Angeles area is severely lacking in health care services.
For example, in South Los Angeles there are 11 pediatricians for every 100,000 children, whereas L.A. County as a whole has 57 pediatricians and West Los Angeles has 193 pediatricians for the same number of children.
The community also needs affordable housing.
The group United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement said that, according to 2000 Census data, 25 percent of households in South Los Angeles are âseverely overburdenedâ by their rent because they spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing.
But itâs not just local, long-time
residents that would benefit from affordable housing.
âWith the cost of tuition rising every year, students shouldnât have to deal with increasing shelter costs as well,â said Jonathan Truong, a member of USCâs Campus Community United, a coalition that works to empower local neighborhoods. âWe need access to more safe, healthy and economical housing options.â
USC students also deal with the heavy burden of rising housing costs.
The Community Advisory Committee for Council District 9 (where USC and the proposed Lorenzo Project are located), appointed by the Council District 9 office and composed of homeowners, businesses and community organizations, unanimously voted to withhold their recommendation for the project to the cityâs commissioners after hearing extended arguments and testimony from both Palmer and local residents.
Despite the local opposition from student groups and residents, community groups and the CAC, Palmer is moving ahead as if the project were fully approved.
This is the same developer who, in 1992, was found guilty of 15 violations of the California Political Reform Act and agreed to pay $30,000 in fines.
In 2004, Palmer agreed to pay $2.8 million for a series of lawsuits that charged him with failing to include not including necessary affordable housing units. Now, the developerâs current plans are a cause for concern.
Clearly, Palmer already has a questionable history when it comes to his business dealings. And there is no reason to allow him to continue his current plans.
Therefore, we have a stake in rising up against a construction project that puts recklessness ahead of the will of the people.
For those who want to have their voice heard, the cityâs planning commissionâs final vote on the Q condition will be Wednesday, Jan. 13th at 8:30 Â a.m. in City Hall.
Let us not miss an opportunity to take a stand against this project â a project being conducted at the expense of our Â local health and housing needs.
This could be a chance for Â the student body to defend its community. Letâs not disappoint it.
Max Hoiland is a senior majoring in film and critical studies.